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Rendville Coal Town Archeological Project

Race, Gender, and Consumption in the Appalachian Coal Fields

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Zada Komara, University of Kentucky, Lewis Honors College

FIELD CREW: Lewis Honors College student Jaycee Castro; Rendville Historic Preservation Society and The Ohio State University Volunteers


Archaeology is a crucial means of investigating Rendville’s past. The Rendville Historic Preservation Society, along with the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council, and The Ohio State University, have launched concerted efforts to preserve and share the history of Rendville through various community and academic partnerships.

The Rendville community dump provides exciting opportunities for archaeological research about Appalachia. Very few Appalachian coal towns have been investigated in archaeology. Very few archaeological studies of Appalachian coal towns have been done outside Cultural Resource Management (CRM) reviews mandated by federal and state development efforts. The lives and contributions of African Americans and immigrants in Appalachian’s coalfields remain distorted, suppressed, and woefully understudied, as does Ohio’s role in regional and national bituminous production.

This project proposes community-based archaeology in the interests of addressing these deficiencies and providing fine-grained analyses of everyday life in Appalachian Ohio’s Little Cities of Black Diamonds region. The project specifically aims to perform a neighborhood-level analysis of Rendville consumption patterns probing mass-produced and home-manufactured goods from a late 19th to mid-20th-century household refuse dump.

The strategy Dr. Zada Komara’s team is using is controlled sample surface collecting and shovel test probes. The Rendville Coal Town Archaeology Project began with a pedestrian survey which Dr. Komara completed with RHPS Vice Chair, Harry Ivory in 2021. Jaycee K. Castro and Madeline R. Williams, Dr. Komara’s University of Kentucky students are working with her and Harry Ivory. (June, 2022)

Dr. Komara, volunteers and RHPS Vice Chair, Harry Ivory plan to do some more shovel testing on October 21, 2022. In the meantime they have started washing and processing the artifacts from the Uncle Joe’s site. This is being done as community was events with any student or volunteers who wants to come. Dr. Komara shared the poster and pics from last week’s wash event.

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We are currently accepting donations via check and PayPal.

Checks must be made out to the Rendville Historic Preservation Society and mailed to:

Rendville Historic Preservation Society
Frans H. Doppen, Treasurer
59 Elmwood Place
Athens, OH 45701